Spring Grove City Council Candidate, Steve Kemp
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 7:37 AM
Six candidates are seeking two positions on the Spring Grove City Council. Incumbents Steve Kemp and Rachel Storlie face challengers Nancy Nelson, Rachel Olerud, Dave Peterson and Roger Taylor. They all responded to the questionnaire from the Spring Grove Herald. Below are their responses listed in alphabetical order. Each response was limited to 150 words.
Steve Kemp, age 58 -
1.) Please tell us about yourself and why you are running for office?
I have lived in Spring Grove for over twenty years with my wife, Linda Nerstad Kemp. I'm currently serving my fifth year as a Spring Grove City Councilman. The city council has spent hundreds of hours in the planning process for the highway/Main Street project. I believe that turning the project over to new council members who have vowed to fight the project every step of the way will cost the city much more money in the long run. The residents of Spring Grove should have a choice, re-elect those council members who know the project inside and out or elect three new council members who have little or no knowledge of the Main Street Project. Spring Grove isn't the first town that I have lived in; hopefully, it will be the last. I truly love this town. I will work for its continued prosperity and success in the future.
2.) The Main Street project has seen its share of controversy. As a member of the current council that is proposing the improvements, tell readers why you feel so strongly that this project should move forward as proposed.
This council has put its heart and soul into the main street project. My goal from the beginning has been to make Main Street safer. Main street has become unsafe. Safety experts from the Department of Transportation advised the council on safety improvements, and we followed their advice. I have seen the difficulty of the elderly, those with physical disabilities and children on crossing Main Street and navigating our deteriorated sidewalks. I'm absolutely certain we will have a safer Main Street upon completion of this project. For other candidates to suggest safety is not a problem is one of the most disturbing, irresponsible comments I have heard. Funding of $1.5 million in cost share from the DOT, historic low interest rates and the possibility of much higher cost 10 to 20 years down the road are some of the reasons why we should do this now.
3.) How do you feel the city has done the last year on transparency, and is there any room for improvement?
Transparency is very important to the current city council. In regards to the Main Street Project: from the very beginning, meeting notices for the planning process have been posted. There is a glass case outside city hall where public notices are posted. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The public has always been welcome; all information pertaining to Main Street is available to anyone. There were open houses and presentations on Main Street. I'm very disappointed and saddened that a hand full of people used this process for their own political gain. By using anger, meanness, fear and misinformation, they successfully highjacked the conversation. Let me stress that all information is available to the public. I will even personally visit your home with the Main Street plan and explain it to you if you request it.
4.) Do you feel that the city needs to look at reducing its current budget, and if so, what areas would you look at cutting?
Further cuts to budget will mean cuts to the services the city provides. Can we deliver those services in a more cost effective manner? Absolutely! We continue to find ways to do that. I do not believe in a slash and burn approach to balancing or reducing the budget. It takes painstaking efforts and a council that can work together to find reductions in our budget without cutting essential services. This year we have found savings in several areas that will allow us to possibly have a 2013 budget that is close to a zero percent levy increase. Does that mean we can sit back and relax? Absolutely not! With good planning we can have a sustainable budget that does not call for property tax increases year after year. That is this council's goal, and I think we have put the plans in place to accomplish that.
5.) What accomplishments are you most proud of from your current tenure?
Working through the Main Street reconstruction planning. Despite the negativity by some, I believe people will be very pleased with the project when it's finished. My work with the rest of the council establishing a Capital Improvement Plan so there are no big surprises down the road with streets, buildings, our waste water treatment plant, the water supply, electric system and parks. That plans calls for putting money aside so we have that cash when repairs or upkeep are necessary. Also work continues on the comprehensive plan, which will guide the city in further development. We have made the difficult decisions to put a plan in place that will make it possible to have sustainable budgeting in the years ahead. Having a good working relationship with my fellow council members and city employees. My work in Roverud Park. Working to restore the park and the pond.
6.) If re-elected, what are the top three issues you want to see addressed in the next four years?
1) See the Hwy 44/Main Street reconstruction through the completion so that the project stays within budget and is completed in a timely manner.
2) With the continued increase in wholesale electric rates from Tri-County Electric and Dairyland Power, now may be the time to research the possibility of our own electric generation. Wind turbines may be one of the few ways to control our electric cost in the future.
3) Continue to work on a sustainable budget process. Planning for the future is one of the tools to achieve this. We already have accomplished some of these goals by establishing a Capital Improvement Plan (preventative maintenance) and soon a comprehensive plan (further development within the city). The city council can only achieve this by working together to do the hard work. This council trusts each other, something that doesn't always happen.